Crude prices inflame fuel prices at the pump

There is enough to wake up the movement of “yellow vests” of winter 2018-2019, even without a carbon tax on automobile fuels. Prices at the pump continue to rise and they reached historic highs during the week ended January 9, according to weekly data from the Ministry of Ecological Transition. A liter of diesel was worth an average of 1.62 euros, that of unleaded 95 E10 1.68 euros and SP 98 1.77 euros. This situation is likely to last – or even worsen – if the rise in crude oil prices continues.

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What can the state do? To cushion the oil shock, it has less leeway than on the price of electricity. Anxious to respect his promise to limit its increase to 4%, he deprived himself of 8 billion euros in tax revenue by reducing the tax on electricity and called on EDF for an equivalent sum. He cannot ask TotalEnergies or Shell to reduce their margins. Lowering fuel taxes, which represent 55% of the price at the pump, would be ruinous. As for a new “inflation allowance” of 100 euros, recently granted to low-income households, it is costly for a very limited effect.

It is indeed the price of black gold which is at the origin of a surge fueling inflation. On Tuesday in London, the barrel of Brent from the North Sea, the world reference, reached 87.51 dollars (77.18 euros), exceeding its level of October 2014. Demand is sustained, and many analysts are expect the barrel to quickly rise to 90 dollars. And even at 100 dollars in the second half, as forecast by the bank Goldman Sachs, when the world economy does not seem to be affected by the outbreak of the Omicron variant.

Uncertain offer

The supply-demand balance is fragile. In its monthly report, published on Tuesday, January 18, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) maintains its forecast for an increase in crude oil consumption of 4.2 million barrels. She will ” robust “ due to sustained growth, and despite uncertainties about the Chinese economic machine. The cartel, however, qualifies its optimism. “Although the impact of the Omicron variant is expected to be mild and short-lived, he warns, uncertainties remain regarding new variants or new mobility restrictions. »

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Faced with this demand, supply is more uncertain. So far, the thirteen members of OPEC, associated with ten other nations (including Russia) within OPEC+, have not put enough oil back into circulation since the summer to bring prices down: + 400,000 barrels per day, and 166,000 only in December 2021 due to the difficulties of some countries to meet their production quota, especially Nigeria and Libya. Taking note of OPEC+’s refusal to loosen the floodgates, US President Joe Biden announced on November 23, 2021 that he would draw 50 million barrels from strategic stocks to ease the markets and lower the price of oil. gallon for motorists. No effect on prices.

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